No interpretation of the Wabi-Sabi philosophy is complete, without the story of that earnest young man who had sought to learn from the expert tea-maker Takeeno Joo.
The beauty and simplicity that Wabi-Sabi stands for, is conveyed poetically through this ancient Japanese legend.
A young man once approached Takeeno Joo, to learn the intricate and complex “Way of Tea” custom. In the desire to examine the young man’s character and competence, the wise master asked him to tend to his garden.
Not only did the earnest young man clean the garden but he ensured that it was perfection personified. But just before he showed his Master the result of his efforts, he gently swung a delicate cherry blossom tree in full bloom.
The few blossoms that lay scattered on the perfect garden caused the garden to portray beauty of another kind – that of imperfection.
The young man’s aesthetic insight in addressing beauty with flaws is what makes this story remembered to this day.This tale also symbolizes an acceptance and celebration of imperfection in the appreciation of beauty. More importantly, it conveys the essence of simplicity in understanding the wisdom of Wabi-Sabi.
While Taoism and Zen Buddhism heavily influenced culture and the psychology of life in Japan and China, it lay great emphasis on the respect for beauty. It was a respect for beauty that was linked to imperfection, but conveying the subtle charm of humility, modesty and impermanence.
We often come across the word “positive” when the intention to describe is based on enhancement, fulfillment and happiness. Inculcating the values of Wabi-Sabi in our life, is a wise way of bringing in harmony and contentment into our life.
Accepting our Vulnerability
Many a time in our desire to do our best, we focus on excellence but with an unhealthily focus on perfection. Instead of enjoying the learning process, doing the best we can, we strive for a state of impossible perfection.
This ends up with a feeling of dissatisfaction about ourselves and leading to unreasonable expectations from us. We also forget to prioritize what is important in our life and how to achieve that. Who we are and what we would like to do is sometimes forgotten due to our inability to accept our shortcomings and what we do not have. Appreciating ourselves for our unique individual differences and our vulnerability takes efforts and confidence. It also needs courage to be ourselves no matter who we are with or where we are.
Learning Patience – Tolerating the Flaws in Others
One of the best ways to accept others is actually by accepting yourself for what you are. Sounds strange? Not really. The logic is when you are in harmony with yourself and not in any competitive or demanding mode with others for your benefit, you are more likely to accept others for who they are.
One of the benefits of accepting people that I’ve experienced was that I felt closer to people than ever before. I also started enjoying the companionship of people who were completely unlike me.
The moment I experienced this revelation, several existing relationships improved too, due to the trust I communicated to the people concerned. I also realized that the less I dealt with thoughts regarding the negativity in others, the more time I got for improving myself and helping others achieve their goals.
Life comes with moments of immense joy and also some moments that you would rather forget, but like Issac Hayes once said,
“If you enjoy the fragrance of a rose, you must accept the thorns which it bears”